An Interview with Austin Langsdorf

I know Austin pretty well, so when he told me he wouldn’t let me interview him unless I bought him a banana I reluctantly handed him my gold card. He came back a few moments later with no banana, reporting that none were ripe enough to meet his satisfaction. He slid into the seat across from me, folded his hands over one another, and looked me straight in the eye.

Austin started playing piano when he was five, was singing before that, and learned guitar when he was twelve because he thought it was cool. He started writing his own songs on a camping trip when he was fifteen.

If you watch Austin play it’s easy to notice his impressive musicianship. He plays by ear, having never taken a real formal lesson until this year, and lets the music flow through him in a way you can see by the expression on his face.

“I’ve always played by ear and had a very moderate scale knowledge. I’m taking jazz lessons now to bridge the gap between feeling the music and playing by ear, and having some structure with a more theoretical basis. More scales diversifies what you can play so much.”

When Austin came to Colorado College he underwent a yearlong hiatus. Years of untrained playing were catching up to him, and as he continued to play more in college he found that his shoulders and hands were in pain from improper technique.

“I don’t think it was totally physical. At some point I decided that I couldn’t play anymore and just made it so I was either playing or not playing, instead of that I was doing it wrong and needed to learn to do it better.”

With the introduction of new lessons and a little alternative physical therapy, Austin has picked up his guitar again and formed a group on campus called Randy and the Reptiles. The band was formed last spring semester with a few different members, but only this year has the band found stability. Having a reliable group of people to practice with combined with a formal practice space has propelled them into new territory, allowing the members to feel comfortable with one another and progress musically.

“I’ve always wanted to play music with other people. I didn’t push it for a really long time and I would play by myself or with one other person. It’s a lot different to jam and present your music to an audience. It’s kind of selfish to be a talented musician and not share it with other people. Music isn’t just about having a hobby, for me, it’s a powerful tool to bring people together. To have tons of people dancing and smiling together is an awesome thing.”

Randy and the Reptiles has filled a void in the music scene at CC. The current bands on campus are full of good musicians, perform well, and are fun to watch. However The Reptiles offer an emotional experience that is not found in many other groups. When they’re performing they give off a vibe that instills a sense of ease in the listener. By presenting themselves in a fun, comfortable, and relaxed way, they allow the listener to tune into this mindset and forgo any fear of judgment in a way that feels incredibly inclusive.

“There are bands on campus that I think are a lot better than us technically. Their musicianship and what they can play together is much tighter. I think honestly there’s a long way to go in the development of our sound. I also think that’s what a lot of people don’t realize. The actual notes that you’re playing are maybe a quarter to half of what’s going on. The way that you present yourself and the dynamic of the band is vastly more important.”

If you’ve ever gone to a Randy and the Reptiles show, what Austin is saying becomes evident. They cover songs that people know and aren’t that technically complicated, yet the audience is incredibly receptive to their music. There has yet to be a Reptiles show where people aren’t generally having a fun, carefree time.

“Even when we play basic covers that we learned two days ago and practiced once, as soon as we present them in an open and relaxed way where we’re not worried, it feeds with everyone there who can open up and have fun.”

So what’s in store for Austin’s future? He plans to keep playing with Randy and the Reptiles until the end of this semester when most of the members will be graduating. After that, Austin has no idea.

“I have no fucking clue what I’m going to do. I’ll be playing music all my life.”


Photo Credit: Richard Forbes

An Interview with Shane Lory

I was waiting for Shane downstairs in Worner when I felt my phone vibrate. It was a text from Shane, saying that he was waiting upstairs for me in the ballpit. I walked upstairs and found him neck deep in an inflatable kiddie pool full of colorful plastic balls, reclined and relaxed. I took off my shoes and climbed in next to him.

Shane’s musical career started at an early age, experimenting with the recorder, the clarinet, and choir by the time he was in fifth grade. He decided he did not like any of these that much, but when his granddad gave him a guitar in sixth grade he found something he wanted to stick with. While teaching himself how to play the guitar, Shane also began writing his own songs and lyrics. Shane described his creative process to me, and although I had trouble following his initial explanation, after some further clarification I realized how unique an approach it was.

“A way that I’ve been going is instead of writing a song that necessarily has a meaning, is starting with the instrumentals, figuring out what the song sort of feels like and then singing nonsense babel until it sounds good, then figuring out what the nonsense babel sounds like in real word terms and ascribing real words to the babel.”

It may sound confusing, but this approach lends itself to songs that stray away from specific intentions that may restrict potential and creates songs with a more vague meaning.

“I read something somewhere that said, ‘you really mature as an artist when you can write songs that aren’t about yourself,’ so I try to do that more often that not. However, I don’t really think I’ve gotten to that maturity yet because they always end up a little autobiographical.”

Shane’s skill as a performer reached a new level when he took a year off between high school and college. He originally intended to spend the year working on farms, but after getting kicked off a farm in Canada full of “hardcore, post apocalyptic, punk, redneck, Canadians,” he found himself in a country he was not familiar with and without any means of making money. All he had with him was his guitar, so he decided to utilize his talent and became a street performer. He paid $20 to get a street performing license and began to play in the Canadian city streets on Victoria Island, learning how to attract an audience and make a good bit of money doing it.

“When you’re on the street it’s important to be louder than everyone else. That only lends itself to success if you can also be really animated and energetic. I got into the style of playing really loud, jumping up and down, dancing, and I was usually barefoot, too, which got a lot of people’s attention.”

He also made his way down to Boulder where he performed on Pearl Street, focusing on improvisational playing on his acoustic. His guitar became the focus of his year abroad, allowing him to make some money while exploring a different style to his musical composition.

Shane has found a confidence in his singing, utilizing it as a way to express his opinions. For Shane, writing and performing are a way to convey his thoughts and ideas to people in a thoughtful and calculated way, whether it be standing on a corner or playing for friends.

“It’s an opportunity to yell my opinion at people and not have that seem like I’m forcing anything on anybody, but also being to premeditate how I’m going to articulate those emotions, which is pretty cool. It’s great to be able to stand on a street corner and express myself to strangers in a way I can’t even express myself to my friends.”

Despite his talent, Shane has been largely absent from the music scene this year. Between running Colorado Springs Food Rescue and the woes of being a junior, Shane has little free time to devote to his music nowadays. He’s hoping to change this and get more involved (heads up to any low commitment bands or musicians searching for a partner). Look out for him at open mic, Food Rescue events, and occasionally downtown playing on a corner. Shane is a really talented musician and songwriter, and if you haven’t heard his stuff I encourage you to check it out. His music is easy to listen to, thought provoking, and has a specific style that is reminiscent of how Shane carries himself day to day.

Link to his music page:



But Who is Randy?

Nic Titus – Keyboard, moral support
Emily Naranjo – Rhythm Guitar
Eliza Densmore – vocals
Kyle Lutz – Bass, chief negotiator of internal affairs
Austin Langsdorf – Guitar and Vocals, Keeps the reptiles blood warming up to survive

It’s 6:30pm and I’m sitting in the main room of some house on Monument, as Randy and the Reptiles get set up to play. I have never been to a band practice, but the imagine of teenagers banging on instruments in someone’s garage while the neighbors cringe in fear always comes to mind. However, Randy and the Reptiles were a bit better than that. In this room clad with blue walls and stained with the smell of cigarettes, great music was created.

“I think it’s the full moon, I’m feeling crazy” says Austin. Maybe it was the full moon or maybe we can blame everything on the weird telekinetic vibes that were occurring between members in that room because the music was electrifying. There was not a moment when my foot was not dancing and tapping to the tunes. This is the music that people want to hear: good music from good people. If you ask them how to describe their sound they may use terms such as “mediocre,” “demonic,” or ” or even “cold-blooded.” However if you ask me, I’ll be a bit boring and say funky, soulful and electric. In many ways the sound was warm and vibrant, but this would be interrupted with a nice strong attention catching attack. An attack that had the potential to send your body into chills after being caught by surprise.

Oh and how could I forget about the vocals? Eliza Densmore, although small, packs a big punch and has the power to knock you off your feet. Combine that with Austin’s bluesy voice and Kyle’s vocal pizazz and you get the creation of something like hard cider, sweet and delicious yet powerful.

So, how did these wonderful people all come together? Apparently Austin asked Kyle, who was playing his guitar in Rastall, if he wanted to play in a band. Then on a separate occasion Nic drunkenly explained to Austin that he really wanted to be in a band and it turned out that they were looking for someone to play the keyboard. Depending on whom you ask, the big group came together out of love and mutual passion and it’s a good thing they did because they are definitely going to bring more to the music scene at CC.

What’s next for the group? Kyle screams out “World Tour” and Nico replies “The International Expo.” Apparently they are both wrong and Acacia Park is really what’s next. Are they actually serious about this, I’m not really sure but I guess we will find out soon. More realistically, they are planning to write more originals this semester and practice some new covers. Lastly, Austin explains that they are planning to “create a safe space for people to get groovy without fear of judgment, competition, repercussions. We would really like to be just a fun band that everyone can get down to. We aren’t trying to do it for being cool or winning or being the best band. We just want to get down.”

Honestly, I’m excited to see more of Randy and the Reptiles playing this year. If they are anything like what I saw in their band practice then we all should be excited. As for who Randy is? That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. Kyle explains, “We had just climbed Mt. Everest and Eliza was half dead on account of oxygen.” Nico adds, “A lizard scurried by and we thought wait. Reptiles.” Somewhere along the way Emily realized “that’s the only life up here.” There you have it. Randy was born. I do not know how legit this story is and you do not have to buy it, but you can buy their music because that was something honest and pure.

Photo Credits: Hannah Fleming

An Interview with Ken Arimura

When I walked into Ken’s apartment on Friday afternoon he was in the middle of cooking himself lunch and the smell of sizzling olive oil and fresh pesto filled the room. I took a seat on the couch and when he was finished cooking he sat on the floor cross-legged, a bowl of salad in one hand and eggs in the other. He looked up at me nervously as we began talking.

Ken started playing drums when he was in sixth grade and picked up the guitar a couple years later. He currently plays guitar for the all junior band Touch It, although drums are his favorite to play.

“Ever since I was a kid I would take out metal bowls from the kitchen and use chopsticks to play with them. I decided to have a jam one day with two of my good friends and after that I figured this is what I want to do.”

When Ken came to CC he jammed casually with friends in the Mathias basement, and eventually the people who showed up to jam became consistent and Touch It gradually formed. Ken has played in a band before, specifically a death metal band called The Trees, but this is his first time playing guitar for a band full time.

“I used to only play drums, so this is a whole new thing. You’re much closer to the crowd. It makes you a lot more nervous. If I look up at the people and not at my fingers it’s like ‘ahhh’ I’m going to look over there and adjust some stuff.”

Ken’s mom has largely influenced the way he plays music. He says she has always been encouraging and open to new styles, even going as far as to listen to his death metal. She also is largely responsible for Ken’s interest in guitar; she gave him her old acoustic and introduced him to an 80’s power funk band called The Extremes that has heavily guided his style.

“I like finding repetitive patterns and milking it. I’m kind of a cheap bastard like that. To me, repeating a groove over and over again really gets you moving. It starts getting catchy and you start thinking, where can I go with this specific melody and harmony and what not, and what can I put on top of it?”

Ken plans to continue playing with Touch It but would like to start something new, too. Mainly because he wants to play drums more.

“I play guitar like a play drums, I don’t play drums like I play guitar.”

Ken is an incredibly talented musician who continues to impress his audience. Those close to him know how hard he practices and how this practice has paid off.

“Surprising yourself is worth it for me. Like whoa did I just do that? And then you try it again and you mess it up and you do that over and over again until you can add it to your dictionary. If I was jamming with someone I know that they’d throw stuff at me during the jam that I wouldn’t know how to respond to, but I want to know how to respond because then you can communicate. Learn music for the sake of sharing it with other people.”

An Interview with Jake Sabetta

I met Jake the first day of school in my FYE “Emotion and Meaning in Music.” He wore a humble grin that stretched across his face, the same grin that greeted me in upstairs Worner over the weekend as we sat down on the couches to talk.

Jake first started playing guitar when he was 11 years old after being exposed to legends like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. He became well known in the music scene at CC when he began playing with YouJazz, filling in for their guitarist Phoenix.

“I had played in front of huge crowds before but I never played to a crowd that was so receptive to the kind of music that I enjoyed playing. It gave me hope to see that kids my age like the same music that I enjoy playing.”

Jake now plays in Funkdozer, one of the four finalists in Battle of the Bands. Their group originally started as a trio with saxophone player Brian LeMeur and drummer Jake Lauer. Once they found a bassist, fellow freshman Dylan Pearl, they became a band.

“When we got back from Christmas break Brian got us our first gig above the Preserve. Kids really liked it! We were so surprised because we put all the songs together in five days, and just thought holy crap people actually liked it.”

This modest attitude that surrounds the all freshman band keeps them practicing, playing, and gaining more popularity on campus. Jake continues to shy away from compliments and shakes his head when anyone tries to give him one.

“We all think we suck.”

After their win at Battle of the Bands Jake and the rest of Funkdozer are still reeling. They played a risky set, choosing a 20 minute long jam session instead of a preset list of songs, that ultimately propelled them to tie with YouJazz for the most votes.

“Guitar is an instrument that is unexplored. With a lot of instruments there’s a method to how you get good at them, but with guitar it’s up to the player to figure it out themselves. You have to mess around and explore the fret board yourself. That’s so cool to me. I’ll sit down and figure new stuff out every time I play. I kind of don’t understand why I like it so much, but I just know the instrument has done a lot of good to me and that’s why I love it so much.”